Music was a really important part of my life growing up.
About the age of 7 my brother decided he wanted to learn to play an instrument. Not wanting to be out done, I wanted to learn too. My Dad was happy to encourage this, and got a second-hand cornet from someone he worked with. To start with we shared this instrument, and both got on really well. We joined the local town band, to learn more. They had an active youth section, and a great selection of instruments which we were encouraged to try. It seems to be the thing with brass players when they are learning, that they keep trying different instruments until they find the one that suits them! I stayed with the cornet for a while before moving to the tenor horn. I knew I still hadn’t found my instrument. My Dad decided to learn with us, and he learned the trombone. The band played at fetes and concerts, and rehearsed once a week. It was great fun. We were playing in a local music festival when I decided what my instrument should be, the flugal horn – I think it was more than the beautiful tone it makes, but that I saw someone with one draped over their arms, and I was smitten. I was able to borrow one from the band, and we fitted together. I had arrived at my musical happiness. My brother by this time had found the euphonium, but he later moved to the tuba. We continued playing with the town band, and also joined the local youth band. Music had become the thing we did extra curricular.
When I got to secondary school, I had regular teacher, who was also the conductor of the youth band we played for. I loved playing, and it became all I ever did. Like many people who play, I hated to practise, but luckily I was a good sight-reader. With the youth band, I was promoted to the senior band, and was able to join them on a trip to Denmark in 1979. It was a mad experience looking back on it now. A coach full of children driving through Europoe up through Germany to Denmark. We stayed with hosts families in Roskilde. It was a great thing to do, and even better to have repeated it 5 years later.
I started to learn the piano, and while I enjoyed it, I found difficulty working out the difference between my left and right hands! I think its to do with me being a lefty, and therefore much more heavy-handed on that side! I enjoyed it though and kept playing and learning.
The exams you take in the music world, are called grades, and I quite enjoyed the work involved in preparing for them, as it is more than just learning the pieces, their was the theoretical, and the technical side too. The mid-level is Grade 5, and to continue further you have to take theory exams. Being a logical person, the theory was something that I whizzed through and gained distinctions through to Grade 8, the highest level.
When I came to choosing what I wanted to do when I left school, I basically had no idea what life was to hold for me. My brother was doing a pre-professional music course at college, and it sounded fun, so rather than think too hard, I enrolled on the same course. I don’t think I excelled because my heart wasn’t really in it. I loved playing, but it wasn’t something I felt was what I wanted for life. Through college, I went on a tour of the United States of America. It was an amazing experience, and one I would not have otherwise had.
I continued playing for a while after I left college, but with life, and work getting in the way, I soon stopped playing.
For a long time, I felt as if I had lost a lot of my childhood due to concerts and rehearsals. My friends were out having fun at weekends, but I always had somewhere I needed to be. Looking back on it now, I realise I had great experiences, thanks to it. My parents gave up so much time and money to let us participate, and we never said thank you for that!!!
When we move to our present house, we were given a free piano. I started to learn again, and Hubby gave it a go for a while. I suppose at this point, I wish I had kept it up all those years ago.
D was interested in music, and so, like many parents, I put stickers on the piano with the name of the notes, and we started to try the basics. He learned to play one fingered, the theme tune of Star Wars, and then decided he didn’t want to know anymore. He has since got a cornet, and is learning how to breathe at the moment. There is no music coming out of his bell yet, but he can make a good tone.
I recently entered a competition to win a piano in the Pianist magazine. I entered but thought nothing of it, after all, the chances of winning were extremely remote. I received a phone call from the editor of the magazine, to tell me there had been over 2,500 entrants my name had been drawn as the winner. I must have sounded like a gibbering idiot as I gushed thank yous at her. She said she would pass my details on to Yamaha, who would contact me to talk about it. They did, and they said it would be organised. This was a couple of weeks ago, and I was beginning to think it would never arrive.
Yesterday was the day that it was delivered. It is beautiful. I would never have that sort of money to spend on an instrument. The boys are as excited as me, and both have asked if they can learn properly now we have a proper instrument. I hope they enjoy it. I am so lucky to have been given this opportunity, as it could really make such a difference to the boys lives. There is a lot of information about how music helps people with autism, I am hoping this may be true.